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FascistLibertarian
07-02-2007, 11:22 AM
I dont want to post the text itself (not sure about copyright laws, if its alright tell me and ill post it)
They discuss unity of effort, too few troops, and the recent civilians we have killed.

1) They call for the ISAF to have 'primacy' and 'oversight' over ther OEF.
2) They call for a population centered not insurgent centered approach.
3) Lastly, they call for aborting strikes against high risk targets if there is a 'serious risk' of civilians getting killed.

#1 I dont know enough about to say. In theory it makes sense. I dont know about the situation on the ground enough to say
#2 seems to make sense
#3 Will just make the Taliban hide among civilians more. If they know we will back off.

kaur
07-02-2007, 01:13 PM
I suppose that this is this article

Fatal errors in Afghanistan
Jun 21st 2007
From The Economist print edition

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9366272

FascistLibertarian
07-02-2007, 02:06 PM
yeah....
Thanks!

Pragmatic Thinker
07-03-2007, 12:37 PM
I will keep my comments short since it is my first entry onto this blog site. I have been to OEF numerous times over the past three and a half years, and the author of this Economist article is correct that ISAF and CJTF-82 (to include the USSOF units) have divergent missions. However, I would argue this is true among the NATO members also serving in RC South (Kandahar, Helmand, and Zabul Provinces). The majority of the fighting (and unfortunately dying) is done by the Americans, Brits, and Canadians. The other "partners" within the NATO alliance are not viewed as aggressive in their strategies toward the Taliban. I would argue that it will take more than rebuilding (or building) infrastructure to counter the Taliban influence throughout Afghanistan. I believe one of the main concerns for military commanders is the lack of actual combat troops and the lift to move them across the battlefield. Many times it comes down to using the most lethality available to strike a target at that given moment. Is it worth killing 10 or more civilians to kill a significant leader like Mullah Dadullah Lang? I think in some respects the U.S. commanders on the ground believe the short term success of disrupting these groups is worth the cost...I happen to agree based on the conditions we fight under. It is extremely difficult to fight a war and kill the enemy in this context when your enemy hides among the people you're attempting to help....

Tom Odom
07-03-2007, 12:45 PM
I will keep my comments short since it is my first entry onto this blog site. I have been to OEF numerous times over the past three and a half years, and the author of this Economist article is correct that ISAF and CJTF-82 (to include the USSOF units) have divergent missions. However, I would argue this is true among the NATO members also serving in RC South (Kandahar, Helmand, and Zabul Provinces). The majority of the fighting (and unfortunately dying) is done by the Americans, Brits, and Canadians. The other "partners" within the NATO alliance are not viewed as aggressive in their strategies toward the Taliban. I would argue that it will take more than rebuilding (or building) infrastructure to counter the Taliban influence throughout Afghanistan. I believe one of the main concerns for military commanders is the lack of actual combat troops and the lift to move them across the battlefield. Many times it comes down to using the most lethality available to strike a target at that given moment. Is it worth killing 10 or more civilians to kill a significant leader like Mullah Dadullah Lang? I think in some respects the U.S. commanders on the ground believe the short term success of disrupting these groups is worth the cost...I happen to agree based on the conditions we fight under. It is extremely difficult to fight a war and kill the enemy in this context when your enemy hides among the people you're attempting to help....

Good entry and I agree that this use of force is a central issue, one complicated by the subordinate issue of available forces. I have a different take on the need for short-term gains versus the long-term costs. If it ultimately adds to the duration of the war, short term successes are not successes.

Keep posting and do us a favor by introducing yourself at Tell Us About Yourself (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=1441)

best

Tom

Mooks
07-04-2007, 06:01 PM
I agree with quite a bit of Pragmatic Thinker's discussion. A fear that some have related to me is that many commanders on the ground still have a kinetic view on the ground, even though Cimic and Psyops has taken hold. Often a "cimic" or "psyops" aspect will be included, just because they think they need one, not because they are thinking in the terms of these ideas. Thatís changing but its not an easy.

One of the interesting aspects of this discussion on proportionality came with the decision to deploy Leopard tanks last fall. It was found that Canadian troops did not have an adequate weapon between the chain gun on the LAVs and Artillery/Air strikes, which could take on hard mud walls of compounds. Quite often the 25mm would be woefully ineffective against these reinforced walls, and strikes caused far too much collateral damage. The main gun of the Leopard was seen to be a "proportional" weapon: it could accurately deliver the precise amount of damage as well as being available whenever the commander desired.

In all fairness, (and to echo Pragmatic Thinker's thoughts) I don't think the NATO/OEF has sufficient troops in the region. This was all but stated by British officers about their stretch in Helmand, and I think many others agree with that assessment as well. As a result the best we can hope for is the maintenance of the current situation, but we will not make concrete steps towards achieving peace. It might occur in "generations" as some Canadian officials assert, something we will have to be there for 10+ years, but in some way I think thatís a bit of a cop out. It seems to tell me that we have a long term plan in but we can't really give any benchmarks for success in the least. Its not that I'm suggest that counter-insurgency operations aren't almost always long term endevours; they are, particularly in a place as fractured as Afghanistan. However given the growing strength of the insurgency, its increasing infiltration into rural areas, seem to suggest in many critical categories we are moving in the opposite direction.

I believe that privately at least a few officers believe that we are just trying to hold till 2009, when Canada is likely pull out and (more importantly) the US might redeploy troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, so that we might have more appropriate force levels given the task we are facing.

Lastdingo
07-05-2007, 04:57 AM
I know, building something up to win hearts & minds and so on in in fashion.
But in the case of Afghanistan, I simply don't understand why so many people focus on that and the fighting.

As I see it, we have a desired condition for leave
(central government is stable and powerful enough to gain control over the whole country)
and a minimal condition
(non-Islamistic forces are strong enough to suppress islamistic forces).

Why do so many people insist on building a western-style army for the central government, fighting the taleban and meanwhile doing good things for the population to avoid additional troubles?

Wouldn't it be simply possible to let the central government raise a well-paid, typical mercenary army and crush one warlord after another if necessary so that once the central government is powerful enough we could simply get out of that distant and geostrategically very irrelevant country?

I feel that the presence of infidel foreigners just helps the taleban recruiting effort. It's difficult to imagine for me that they could recruit in Pakestan as easily if they only waged war against Afghani muslim factions.

Pragmatic Thinker
07-05-2007, 12:36 PM
I know, building something up to win hearts & minds and so on in in fashion. But in the case of Afghanistan, I simply don't understand why so many people focus on that and the fighting.

As I see it, we have a desired condition for leave (central government is stable and powerful enough to gain control over the whole country)
and a minimal condition (non-Islamistic forces are strong enough to suppress islamistic forces). Why do so many people insist on building a western-style army for the central government, fighting the taleban and meanwhile doing good things for the population to avoid additional troubles?

Wouldn't it be simply possible to let the central government raise a well-paid, typical mercenary army and crush one warlord after another if necessary so that once the central government is powerful enough we could simply get out of that distant and geostrategically very irrelevant country?

I feel that the presence of infidel foreigners just helps the taleban recruiting effort. It's difficult to imagine for me that they could recruit in Pakestan as easily if they only waged war against Afghani muslim factions.

I would argue that we have not met this condition to date...the central government and its forces are surely not capable of controlling the whole country. Perhaps at the district level there are some success stories with local civilian governors and Afghan National Army commanders working to improve the situation within their respective areas. However, the Economist author is correct again that poor governance (to include lack of security) and its ensuing corruption are the leading cause of peoples' discontent throughout the country. It is not that the Taliban is popular in the sense their ideology is loved but rather they provide the things the so-called central government refuses or simply can't provide. The sad fact remains that Afghanistan like many countries with no experience in representative governance is suffering too much too soon. I have seen this same phenomenon in places like Bosnia...

Raising a mercenary army is not the solution either because loyalty in Afghanistan is not gained through monetary means but rather through tribe and familial associations. If money were the issue I am sure someone would have brought us Osama Bin Laden's head for the $25 million dollar reward by now...The problem currently is too many warlords have their own private armies which they intend to keep, so once this U.S. democracy experiment is over with they can continue to keep their positions of power and territory. You only have to look at characters like Dostum in the northern provinces like Balkh and Konduz, and Khan in the west who practically owns Herat and continues to fight for portions of Farah Province.

Lastly, I absolutely agree with your point that our presence (much like in Iraq) continues to be the fuel that feeds the jihadist fire. Our strategy for Afghanistan is flawed beyond belief and one that will require more time and investment than a simple two term president can provide. I feel that no matter what...the eventual end of our involvement will have more to do with money than with principles and values of what is right and wrong. President Karazai is a brillant man who fully understands the U.S. government is attempting to rebuild his country on the cheap, and he knows that defeating the Taliban and their ideology isn't going to happen anytime soon which is why you hear him speak of making peace with the Taliban and trying to legitimize their presence in the country by dealing with the more moderate characters within their ranks.

Sorry for the lengthy reply but I have spent the past three (+) years deploying back and forth from Afghanistan and find this to truly be a "forgotten war" within the United States.

Mark O'Neill
07-05-2007, 12:39 PM
Gentleman,

I am surprised by some of the responses in this forum. There is little or nothing in the Economist article that would surprise anyone with even a cursory understanding of either current US doctrine (FM 3 -24) or the writings of Galula,Thompson, Kitson, Gwynn, Caldwell (or for that matter Kilcullen).

Remember the line 'some of the best weapons do not shoot' ? That wasn't something just thrown in for a chuckle - the record of history shows that it is true. And, despite all the extravagant claims that have been made from time to time, (here, and in other venues) I have not seen sufficient objective data (as opposed to opinion) that I can conclude that our current conflicts are all ahistorical.

The matter of civilian casualties from the use (or misuse) of airpower is not a trivial matter. As long ago as the 1920's the Brits 'pulled' their use of air power in Iraq because their concerns that the risks posed by deaths of innocents outweighed the benefits to own troops vis a vis the ultimate objective. The truism of 'minimum force' as an adage was not one pulled from someone's backside in COIN thinking - it was derived from years of experience and evaluation of results. Every innocent civilian death from airstrikes and indirect fires in our various current theatres, ultimately sets us back in some way.

Maybe, if we cannot get 'them' without resorting to a blunt instrument that denies verification of who is actually in the room / building / village we should hold off until we can get some form of discriminatory shooter in location. If we 'lose' an opportunity that we are not sure of, but gain the surety of not killing members of the population we are trying to win over, then perhaps we have 'won' in the scenario anyway. Do not get me wrong - if the shot is there, we should take it - if we know what we are doing, as opposed to rolling the die. Hope has never been a good substitute for informed planning and knowledge in such ops.

Indiscriminate application of firepower is for COIN naifs , Play station games and Hollywood movies.

Final observation, in response to some of the other commentary in this forum- there have been a few more nations having successes in Afghanistan other than the US, Brits, and Canadians. In Australia and NZ we tend to measure success and effectiveness, amongst other ways, by the number of enemy killed, not own troops killed ... I recall that George Patton used a similar measure ...

- Mark

slapout9
07-05-2007, 12:46 PM
Mark, that was an excellent response. You must have relatives from Alabama somewhere in your family tree.

Mark O'Neill
07-05-2007, 01:10 PM
Mark, that was an excellent response. You must have relatives from Alabama somewhere in your family tree.


No Mate, South Australia... (kinda the same)..

Cheers,

Mark

Tom Odom
07-05-2007, 01:19 PM
Mark, that was an excellent response. You must have relatives from Alabama somewhere in your family tree.

Naw,

Mark is really a Texan with close cousins in Louisiana...

Good post, Mark!

Tom

Mark O'Neill
07-05-2007, 01:25 PM
Naw,

Mark is really a Texan with close cousins in Louisiana...

Good post, Mark!

Tom

There is a scary thought... though I must admit I was quite taken by the story of the Texan patriots when I visited San Antonio last year.

That said, I used to live down the road from a Station (ranch) that was almost as big as Texas....

Mark

Mooks
07-05-2007, 04:44 PM
Has anybody taken a stab at why all of a sudden the Taliban has been targeting the ANP? I'm starting to think that they realize that the ANP is the most vital part of our effort, because they ultimately are the ones who should be pushing the Taliban out of their base of support. This goes to Last Dingo's comment that we are building a western style army. While the training of the ANA is apparently going on swimmingly, the ANP's has languished. Corruption, poor pay, complicity in the drug trade, low morale, and training ensure that the organization cannot effectively provide security over the populace. The taliban's deliberate targeting of these groups, only ensure that they will remain a low quality force, by killing or scaring away the most ablest individuals.

I suspect that the decision last summer to create an ANP militia was intended to fill this critical gap, but given that the UN now considers most of the south a "no go zone" it seems to me that it has failed to prevent infiltration by the Taliban, and now these groups are firmly entrenched in the south.

Mark, there is one passage I keep coming back to from Krepinevich's Army and Vietnam when I think about Canada's decision to use tanks... it was by LTC Vann


These figures point out... the unwillingness on the part of Vietnamese commanders to have their troops close with and kill the enemy. The small number friendlies killed is due to the desire and practice of Vietnamese commanders to use air, artillery and long ranged crew served weapons to kill the enemy rather than rifles. I would gladly endorsed such a policy if we knew who the enemy was and where he was. In the 41st DTA we never had intelligence that was good enough to justify prestrikes by air artillery or mortars. Guerilla warfare requires the utmost discrimination in killing. Every time we kill an innocent person we lost ground in our battle to win the people. The majority of the Vietnamese population in the 41st DTA is not committed either to the communists or the governments, and indiscriminate killing by either side can be the deciding factor. Next to a knife, a rifle is the most discriminate weapon there is; it is the last one that was preferred for use in the 41st Tactical Area. I believe we are encouraging this attitude by making too many weapons other than the rifle available.

Now I know that its not a perfect amalgam to the situation we face today I remember reading that and thinking to myself, didnít we just deploy a long range crew served weapon? At the same time I think that we don't have much of a choice. Would it really be possible to implement a CORDS/Hamlets type strategy given our force levels? Would the Canadian public accept the increase in casualties that would be associated with it? I suspect it would be a difficult sell.

Mark O'Neill
07-05-2007, 11:07 PM
Mark, there is one passage I keep coming back to from Krepinevich's Army and Vietnam when I think about Canada's decision to use tanks... it was by LTC Vann


G'Day Mooks,

I am a bit more circumspect on tanks than I am on many other weapon systems. The tank does have the advantage of being a direct fire weapon system, and the use of the infantry / tank telephone can go a long way to aiding dismounted troops accurately direct the tank's fire.

That said, the tank still sends a big 'message' - not just to the enemy, but also to the population. I do not think they are the sort of thing you want 'lying around' on urban street corners whilst you try and convince the population that things are returning to normal - their presence is 60t of RHA and other bits denying that fact. Accepting that tanks can be useful in support if and when insurgents are cornered or choose to fight it out, I believe the best tactic would be to keep them out of sight (and hence out of mind), and just use there inherent mobility for them to react / break cover as a QRF type firepower asset if required.

I guess the key thing to remember, about not just tanks but also any other form of AFV, is that their use physically separates the counterinsurgent from the population, thus increasing risk to the success of the operation. However, their non -use, in some instances, increases the physical risk to the counterinsurgent troops. Both are bad in their own way - it is one of those diabolical COIN paradoxes that Cohen , Crane, Nagl et al expanded upon in their March / April 2006 article in Military Review , subsequently paraphrased in FM 3-24.

I think that to some degree that the risk to own troops of being amongst the population is an inevitable part of COIN ops. If nations are unwilling to accept such risks,then it is time to get out of the COIN game and accept some compromises with your enemy, otherwise you are just prolonging the pain and your own eventual strategic defeat.

Cheers

Mark